Entries in Victoria Nuland (4)


US Officials Emphasize ‘De-escalating’ Gaza Violence

State Department photo/ Public Domain(WASHINGTON) -- As news reports emerged Tuesday of a ceasefire or truce to end the crisis in Gaza, American officials made it a point not to use either of those terms.

Instead, U.S. officials were talking about “de-escalating” the violence in Gaza as a step toward a long-term resolution.

Briefing White House reporters in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes repeatedly said “de-escalation” was the goal for ending the violence in Gaza and Israel.

When asked if he was avoiding using the term “ceasefire,” Rhodes said, "No, I mean, there are many ways that you can achieve the goal of a de-escalation.” He added, "Our bottom line is, is an end to rocket fire. We’re open to any number of ideas for achieving that goal. We’ve discussed any number of ideas for accomplishing that goal. But it’s going to have to begin with a reduction of tensions and space created for the situation to calm. ”

At the State Department briefing earlier in the day, spokesperson Victoria Nuland was also using “de-escalation.”

Nuland was asked several times why she was using that term instead of “ceasefire” or “truce.”  She indicated it was because the State Department did not want to get into characterizing acceptable terminology.  “I’m not going to characterize X is acceptable, Y is not acceptable. That’s a subject for negotiation,” she said.

Furthermore, she said, “because the parties are talking, we’re going to be part of that, and we’re not going to negotiate it here from the podium. We’re not going to characterize it here from the podium.”

The message she did want to get across was that “any de-escalation is a step forward.”

Of the long-term aims of Secretary of State Clinton’s last-minute mission to Jerusalem, Ramallah and Cairo, Nuland said you “obviously start with a de-escalation of this conflict.”  From there, “we have to see an end to the rocket fire on Israel. We have to see a restoration of calm in Gaza. And the hope is that if we can get through those stages, that will create space for the addressing of broader issues, but I don’t want to prejudge. This is obviously ongoing and live diplomacy.”

Before her meeting in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Clinton too avoided using the term “ceasefire.”

After describing America’s commitment to Israel’s security as “rock-solid and unwavering,” Clinton said, “That is why we believe it is essential to de-escalate the situation in Gaza.”

Clinton said that the rocket attacks into Israel from Gaza “must end and a broader calm restored.”  She added that the focus was on "a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security and legitimate aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


State Department Spokesperson Grilled on 'Quiet Diplomacy' Policy on Gaza

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At a State Department briefing Monday, spokesperson Victoria Nuland was asked about the diplomatic progress to end the violence in Gaza. Over the weekend, Nuland released a statement detailing the telephone calls Secretary Clinton made to five different allies, underscoring the intense diplomacy taking place behind the scenes to try and de-escalate the situation.

But Monday, when reporters questioned Nuland on the specifics of what the U.S. is doing, Nuland refused at least 11 times to discuss any details of the Obama administration’s diplomatic efforts, frustrating the press corps.

Reporters took the spokesperson to task for her non-answers, wondering why if leaders of allies such as Turkey and Egypt are forcefully speaking out against Israel while also helping to negotiate a ceasefire, the United States has not just as forcefully spoken out in defense of the Jewish state.

When questioned about whether "quiet diplomacy" is helping in negotiations, Nuland simply responded, "We are working hard with the parties."

One reporter continued to push, accusing the U.S. of "staying silent while people are dying left and right," and criticized the State Department for not responding to Turkey's president calling Israel's actions "acts of terror" against the Palestinians.

“I'm not going to get into a public spitting match with allies on either side. We're just not going to do that, OK?" said Nuland.

After several minutes of the contentious exchange an exasperated Nuland finally responded, “We of course agree that rhetorical attacks against Israel are not helpful at this moment. Is that what you were looking for?”

Nuland did respond to questions about calls from members of Congress to have aid in Egypt re-evaluated if the country does not reign in Hamas. She said, “There's no stipulation with regard to this issue in legislation,” but that Congress still has to approve the release of appropriated funds, and that the State Department is still working with the hill on getting economic support funds released.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


State Department Sticks By McGurk, Despite Racy Emails

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- When sexually explicit emails first surfaced between Brett McGurk, the Obama administration’s nominee to be the ambassador to Iraq, and a Wall Street Journal reporter who later became McGurk’s wife, the State Department refused to comment.

But now spokesperson Victoria Nuland is making it clear the State Department is sticking by its choice.

Nuland defended the nomination of McGurk calling him “uniquely qualified” for the position.

“He spent the better part of the last decade serving our country in and out of Iraq, working for a Republican administration, a Democratic administration,” she told reporters. “He is in our view uniquely qualified to serve as the ambassador and we urge the Senate to act quickly on his nomination,” she said.

Nuland would not comment directly on the explicit nature of the emails, some of which included references to masturbation. The email exchanges were sent to Gina Chon in 2008 when McGurk was working in Iraq negotiating sensitive diplomatic issues such as the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops. Chon was covering Iraq for the Journal. At the time McGurk was married. The blog Cryptome published their racy correspondence earlier this week. ABC News has confirmed the authenticity of the emails.

Senate sources tell ABC News that they have questions over whether McGurk was offering access to information and power, even jokingly, to Chon as part of their blooming relationship. For example in one email Chon jokingly refers to reporters as vultures attacking sources, to which he replies, “If treated to many glasses of wine -- you could be the chosen vulture.”

McGurk also talks about bringing the reporter with him to dinner with a leading Iraqi politician. He ultimately does not, but writes later, “I had a very good day with the Iraqi’s … the best yet. Can’t tell you about it of course. But you should definitely stay past Sunday,” he writes.

McGurk and Chon are now married, a point Nuland made to reporters saying that she had no comment on the emails except that “they are out there for everyone to see between him and the woman who subsequently became his wife.”

As to whether McGurk was properly vetted, Nuland maintained that “all of the necessary things were done before his nomination” and managed with the exact same process the administration uses for all nominations.

Nuland would not comment specifically about Republican Senate criticism of the emails and McGurk’s nomination, but confirmed that the department is continuing to work with members of Congress over McGurk’s nomination process, “in support of it as we do on all nominees.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Victoria Nuland to Be Named State Department Spokesperson

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The State Department will soon get a new spokesperson: Victoria Nuland.
Nuland is expected to take the podium in early June, according to State Department officials. An announcement will likely come this week.
She’s a career foreign service officer and the former U.S. ambassador to NATO under President George W. Bush. She currently serves as the U.S. Special Envoy for Conventional Forces in Europe.
The spokesman position has been vacant since Ian Kelly, now ambassador to the Office of Security and Co-operation in Europe, departed in December 2009. It had been filled in the interim by Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley, who left the job earlier this year following controversial comments about Bradley Manning’s detention. Since then the daily briefing duties have fallen to Acting Deputy spokesperson Mark Toner.
In addition to serving as an ambassador under President Bush, Nuland has other ties to the GOP. Her husband is Washington Post columnist Robert Kagan, and she once served as an advisor to Dick Cheney.
Nuland beat out several other candidates for the position, including at least one other woman. They had practice “murder boards” a few weeks ago.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio